hu·​la ˈhü-lə How to pronounce hula (audio)
variants or less commonly hula-hula
: a sinuous Polynesian dance characterized by rhythmic movement of the hips and mimetic gestures with the hands and often accompanied by chants and rhythmic drumming

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A sinuous Polynesian dance, the hula combines undulating movement of the hips and mimetic hand gestures. The dance is often accompanied by chants, drumming, and music played on instruments such as the ukulele. Originally a religious dance performed to praise the chiefs, contemporary hulas tell a story or describe a place, and are danced exclusively by women. The costume typically includes a raffia skirt with a lei (garland) around the neck.

Examples of hula in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The museum also opened a new exhibition earlier this year honoring the long legacy of hula in Chicago. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Jan. 2024 The group soon expanded to include them, along with pedal steel guitarist Ran Anderson and sister hula dancers Alana and Alyssa Godoy. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 Jan. 2024 Attendees can experience music and dance traditions from the Hawaiian hula to the dances of Tahiti, with contributions from local Arizona artists, as well as international performers from as far away as New Zealand. Sunset Magazine, 26 Dec. 2023 In mathematics, the field of topology deals with shapes and the holes in them—a basketball, without holes, is topologically identical to a football, but distinct from a hula hoop, with one hole. IEEE Spectrum, 23 Dec. 2023 Get clarity with a tarot card reading and show your inner niña/o some love with a hula hoop session. Kamren Curiel, Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2023 This event is so much more than a party that includes hula dancing. Julia Warren, Travel + Leisure, 7 June 2023 For example, kids can jump over towels or wiggle through a hula hoop. 10 of 17 10. Nicole Harris, Parents, 16 Nov. 2023 After a day of hula lessons, lei making, strumming ukuleles, nature walks, swimming like a mermaid, and collecting Montage Merit Badges with the Paintbox children’s program, kids can chow down on Hawaiian cuisine, go stargazing, and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Lindsay Cohn, Travel + Leisure, 2 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hula.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hula was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near hula

Cite this Entry

“Hula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


hu·​la ˈhü-lə How to pronounce hula (audio)
variants or hula-hula
: a Polynesian dance composed of slow rhythmic body movements usually accompanied by chants and drumming

a native word in Hawaii

More from Merriam-Webster on hula

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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